PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — FORMER Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. got a dose of his own medicine when he cried about the tyranny of numbers after the House committee on justice dismissed yesterday 42 against eight voting the impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for lack of substance.
De Venecia, who led the killings of impeachment complaints against the Chief Exececutive from 2005 to 2007, told reporters that the “script” to kill the truth was executed yesterday.
“This is a defeat for truth and justice,” said De Venecia. “Ginamit nila ang numbers, numerical superiority, eh wala na talagang magsa-succeed na impeachment complaint dito sa bansa natin kung gano’n ang prosesong gagamitin nila. This is a defeat of truth and justice.”
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, House committee on justice chair, said the former Speaker has no right to complain since the proceedings were done democratically and transparently.
Lagman recalled that De Venecia did not even complain about numbers before when the latter led the dismissal of the impeachment complaints against President Arroyo since 2005 until 2007.
“Noong s’ya ay Speaker tatlong impeachment ang na-dismiss for insufficiency in substance at kung ating titignan ang records ng House pinupuri n’ya pa ’yung House (committee) on justice. Sa ngayon eh, nasa iba s’yang banda kaya’t ’yun ang sinasabi n’ya,” said Lagman.
Speaker Prospero “Boy” Nograles Jr. said the proceedings were done according to the rules.
“The proceedings were done in an open and transparent manner, fully covered live by the tri-media from the filing of the complaint, up to the actual public deliberation, until it was finally proven to have failed the constitutional test of sufficiency in substance,” Nograles said.
When reporters asked De Venecia about the chances to revive the impeachment complaint during plenary voting, he said: “Possible but improbable. It will depend on the movement of public opinion in the next few days. We will meet again in caucus and decide what are the next steps we should do.”
Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros said the decision to junk the impeachment complaint violated the House Rules on Impeachment Proceedings, prompting the pro-impeachment groups to bring the matter before the Supreme Court (SC).
“The committee on justice has just committed an abuse of discretion. The rule is to be construed liberally since the rules for the 14th Congress is different from the rules during the 12th and 13th Congresses,” she said. “The only requirement now for the decision on sufficiency in substance is the recital of facts and determination of jurisdiction over the complaint. Nothing more, nothing less.”
Unlike the impeachment processes during the last two terms, there is no need to determine at this point whether there is enough evidence to support the allegations, she said.
“If only the House majority stuck with the rules, the complaint is without doubt sufficient in substance,” she stressed. “Had they followed the rules, the evidence would have been presented and even the administration would have been given the chance to respond to the allegations.”